OK, suck it up. Stop yer whining about fruitcake. It’s like kickin’ yer sister — too easy.
I was raised to respect fruitcake. Oddly enough, lots of Canadians appreciate Christmas cakes and puddings courtesy of our European and UK heritage. Americans, not so much. To me it’s good food. I have somewhere around a hundred recipes for different kinds of fruitcakes. I think what I like about them is that they’re dense, sweet, chewy — they satisfy when you bite them, instead of just deflating and leaving you with royal icing in your teeth.
This is one I call “The Best Damn Fruitcake in the World.” It was a recipe of my mother’s, and my all-time favourite. (Though, to be honest, I’ve rarely met a fruitcake I didn’t like. The main offender was another of my mother’s. I’ve conveniently destroyed the only copy of the recipe.)
Plan to make this one at least four weeks before you want it. It will benefit from some time to sit and meld the flavours. I tend to use rum to “age” my cakes. Mother used brandy. You don’t really need either, if you’re making a cake for someone who doesn’t want the alcohol — like a Muslim or non-drinker. I always warn people about it; I’ve had several recovering alcoholics tell me in all honesty that it’s not a problem for them, and I’ve had other people request a non-boozy cake if I offer.
You can make this recipe vegan by simply using 7/8 cup of vegetable oil to replace the butter (or replace with vegan margarine); replacing the honey with a scant 1/2 cup of raw sugar; and whipping 250 g of soft tofu in the blender until smooth to substitute for the eggs.
The Best Damn Fruitcake in the World
½ cup sugar
½ cup honey
5 well-beaten eggs
1-½ cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. allspice
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
¼ cup flour
1 lb. Pkg. mixed candied fruit
½ lb. pitted dates
¼ lb. walnuts
¼ lb. pecans
Red and green candied cherries and pineapple: use whatever quantity desired.
Halve the cherries and cut the pineapple.
Dredge the fruits in the above 1/4 of a cup of flour.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the honey. Add eggs and beat well. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour sifted with the dry ingredients. Pour the batter over the fruits and nuts and mix well. (If you don’t have a big Kitchenaid mixer, use a big honkin’ bowl and a sturdy spoon. Good upper body workout when you’re making a triple batch!)
I use the little foil loaf pans that will hold about 2 cups. Spray the pans with PAM or other cooking spray, then spoon the batter into the pans. If using a kitchen scale, I will tare the scale for the weight of an average pan, then add 450g of batter. Do not flatten…it’ll melt and sink on its own while it bakes. Bake in a slow oven, 250 degrees for 3 to 4 hours.
Place a pan containing a quart of water on the bottom shelf of the oven while baking. Cakes baked with water have a greater volume, and are more moist and better texture, and a smooth shiny glaze. If decorations of almonds and cherries are used, place on cakes at the end of 2 hours.
When the cakes come out of the oven, let them cool for about 10 minutes in the pans, then carefully turn them out of the pans and let them finish cooling completely on wire racks. Some people like to wrap them in rum or brandy soaked cheesecloth. I prefer a more direct approach. I use a 60cc veterinary syringe and gently dribble 15-20 cc of black rum into each cake. I wrap the cake in clear wrap and then put the wrapped cake back in the little foil pan. Ideally fruitcakes for Christmas should be made and aging by (American) Thanksgiving (Nov. 24).
Store in a covered container in a cool place. Properly stored and covered, they’ll last indefinitely. I’ve had 25-year-old fruitcake. It was amazing. If you’re worried about the temperature control or whether it will last until you’re ready to eat it, you can store the cakes in the freezer. Make sure they’re very well wrapped or they’ll freezer burn. Set them in the refrigerator the night before you serve them, to defrost.